Published 7:00 pm Monday, June 17, 2024

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Spirit of Moonpie and I spent June 10-12 on the Blackwater at Franklin, and Whispering Bear spent the latter part of June 11 through June 12 with us. The river was getting stagnant and unusually warm for this early in the year. It averaged 78 degrees, but I saw temps over 80 in some places. Air temps were pleasant at 61 to 85 degrees. I saw no water quality issues but am already seeing some dead fish, and the river smelled of dead fish in many places. I saw three dead blue cats, a dead gar and a dying gizzard shad. Trash was light, but I did retrieve a large piece of Styrofoam, a sealed 5-gallon bucket that had bones in it (like pork rib bones?) and a bunched together gaggle of 10 balloons, grrr. 

The fishing on this trip was not good. Only caught two catfish, a 5-pounder and a very small catfish that didn’t even make it in the boat. The regular fishing was not good either. I actually had a difficult time catching bait for the catfishing at night. Speaking of catfishing, I want to remind noodle or jug fishing folks that noodle and jug equipment must have your name, address and phone number along with a strip of reflective tape on the devices. People fishing jugs and noodles also MUST keep the noodles and jugs in sight at all times when fishing them. You cannot toss those out and leave them while you go fishing somewhere else.

We saw a lot of critters on this trip on the Moonpie Critter Patrol. We saw some muskrats swimming with tree branches and grass… even underwater, lots of deer, a fox, an owl, many great blue herons and a bunch of prothonotary warblers. What was really great, though, was an osprey that hung out with us for a mile, allowing me to take dozens of pictures — a rare instance of wildlife cooperating with the desires of the photographer, hhhhaaaa.

The first night I fished downriver from Franklin and didn’t even have a decent hit that night. On Night No. 2, we went upriver back behind River Road, and that’s where we caught the two catfish. So even though the fishing was slow, it was nice to be out there before this upcoming blistering heat gets here. I hope that doesn’t last too long so I can hurry up and return to the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

Jeff Turner is the Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard. To contact him about river issues, send him an email at blknotkpr@earthlink.net. He can also be followed on the Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard Facebook page. Search for “Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard” on Facebook.